The publishing world has been shaken today with the withdrawal of leading magazine group Bauer Media from the Audited Media Association of Australia (AMAA).
Bauer will instead focus on readership and has announced it will use the publisher-owned survey, emma.
The German-owned company, publisher of magazines such as Australian Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan, will end its provision of audited circulation figures.
Market speculation also suggests the company is looking at the purchase of Pacific Magazines, owned by Seven West Media, publisher of The West Australian.
It is the second recent departure from the AMAA. Earlier this year, Fairfax Media said it would no longer have a selection of its websites audited.
The Bauer decision is across all titles.
The two other major magazine groups – News Corp’s NewsLifeMedia and Pacific Magazines – continue to use emma for readership as well as circulation data.
The head of the magazine industry group welcomed the move, saying circulation was outdated – a possible indication other members may follow Bauer’s lead.
“It’s about time,” said Mary-Ann Azer, executive director of Magazine Networks. “The circulation data is not relevant to how the media operates any more. Any publisher does not have just a print product. I don’t see the relevance of circulation as it stands.”
Bauer boss Nick Chan said the move would “make our magazines more competitive with other main media such as television, radio and OOH, which is already traded based on the size of audiences”.
He said circulation audits did not “properly represent how consumers are interacting with our brands across different platforms”.
“Connected audiences across multi-media channels is where we see the future of magazine brands in Australia.”
He said this was why the company had chosen to use emma, as it combined print readership with digital audience data from Nielsen.
For Australian Women’s Weekly, emma calculates the magazine has five readers per copy while rival Roy Morgan Research says it is 4.2 readers.
Mr Chan said: “The addition of emma and, in particular, its fusion of Nielsen’s digital audience data, will give advertisers greater visibility on the consumers engaging with our brands. In addition to the data from Roy Morgan, we have the most granular view of total magazine brand audiences across print and digital channels.”
Emma general manager Mal Dale welcomed Bauer’s decision to use emma and said it demonstrated its “pivot to the multi-channel reality for news media mastheads and magazine titles”.
Chief executive of the AMAA, Josanne Ryan, released a statement about Bauer’s decision late on Thursday afternoon.
“Accountability and transparency are the hallmark of the AMAA’s audit services; audited circulation or distribution for a publication is simply verification of the actual figures,” the statement read.
“We acknowledge that publishers are producing content across multiple channels and as such print accounts for just one part of their brand audience. However, with accountability and transparency a hot topic across the media landscape, the AMAA is disappointed in Bauer’s decision to forego providing advertisers and their agencies with the audited data that supports the readership metric.
“The circulation data continues to be acknowledged as a highly trusted metric by marketers and agencies.
“The AMAA will continue to provide verified, trusted data for its member brands, along with our work across multiple channels and supporting accountability and transparency in the media trading ecosystem.”
For more news from NewsMediaWorks, click here.